In my review of the UN climate talks in Doha this past month, I made a reference to Pablo Solon’s blog post about how the climate change conference in Durban one year earlier was the third time in a row that governments and businesses rejected taking climate action, following on from the summits in Copenhagen and Cancun.
Writing the blog straight after the talks in Durban, he likened them to a third installment of a figurative movie series about the climate negotiations, which he symbolically labelled “The Great Escape”:
““The Great Escape III” is the name of this movie, and it tells the story of how the governments of rich countries along with transnational corporations are looking to escape their responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Solon is the former Bolivian Chief Negotiator for climate change. Despite moving on from this position, he has still continued to passionately invest himself in climate change politics, and on Tuesday he published a post called “Strike Four for Climate Change“, written again just days after the end of the annual climate talks.
In this well-expressed article, Solon carries on his sentiments from last year, except now, as the level of indifference and pure impunity of transnational corporations and rich governments continues to rise, the rate of urgency and frustration betrayed in Solon’s words has increased accordingly.
The climate negotiations have now more than striked out. They have failed us and indeed continue to fail us.
As Solon says, “it is time to challenge the negotiations by winning concrete victories outside the negotiations, supporting the grassroots struggles around the world like those against extractive industries and the false solutions”.
Solon also believes we need to reflect upon the flaws and contradictions inherent in the global political/economic system. The problem of climate change is related to that of the financial crisis and the global inequality divide, as both are upshots of the same systemic problems which promote “production, overconsumption, and the over exploitation of nature” and which turn humans into pathological consumers by “[selling] the lie of endless growth to increase the rate of profit of a few”.
His solution of moving beyond state-based paradigms of how to deal with climate change to examining how class-conflict and global stratification are influencing climate change negotiations is an astute one. Not only does it make sense, as it is obvious the “elites of all the countries, including in the least developed countries, are prioritizing their own interests than those of their people”, it also opens up a bridge for citizens of developed countries to unite with those of developing nations under the same cause: to defend the world, and by extension all of humanity, against dangerous global warming which is primarily being caused, and sustained, by minorities of the populations of both the Global North and the Global South.
But even if you don’t agree with this conclusion, one thing is for sure: there are some deep-seated problems in international relations which short term, “band-aid” solutions aren’t answering.
It is time to start seriously opening up a dialogue about, and reflecting upon, the international political and economic system.